Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Latest Posts

Taiwan Watches for Sudden Moves As China Raises Defense Spending

China’s forces could make a “sudden incursion” into Taiwan’s territorial sea or airspace this year, the island’s defense minister said on Monday, after the Chinese government raised its military spending to meet “complex security challenges.”

Chiu Kuo-cheng told a legislative committee in Taipei that Beijing’s defense hike was consistent with the increases seen in recent years. But the language used to justify the latest decision suggested China was “preparing to act military in the future if necessary,” he said.

As China’s annual “two sessions” legislative gathering kicked off over the weekend, the government on Sunday unveiled 1.55 trillion Chinese yuan ($224 billion) in defense funds for 2023, a 7.2 percent increase and slightly more than last year’s 7.1 percent rise.

The world’s no. 2 economy increased what was already the second-largest military budget by a single-digit percentage point for the eighth year running.

By comparison, Taiwan increased its defense spending this year to 586.3 billion New Taiwan dollars ($19 billion), a record double-digit rise, but still 11 times smaller than that of its neighbor across the Taiwan Strait.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Defense has an operating budget of $772 billion in 2023. The Pentagon’s annual China Military Power Report last year said Beijing aims to put its forces in a “leading position in an enduring competition between systems,” chiefly with the United States.

Chiu, the Taiwanese defense chief, said China’s military had been operating with a “stronger posture” toward Taiwan since last year, after breaking a decades-long tacit agreement not to send forces across the strait’s center line. An average of 10 Chinese warplanes or warships now operate near Taiwan every day, he said.

So far, Taipei hasn’t reported any Chinese military activity inside its 12 nautical mile territorial sea and airspace, or within its 24 nautical mile contiguous zone. But the Taiwanese government has vowed to exercise its right to self-defense in such an event, and last year said it shot down a civilian drone over one of its outlying islands off the Chinese coast.

“They’re waiting for us to give them a pretext,” Chiu told Taiwan’s lawmakers, citing as examples future high-profile visits by American politicians or US-Taiwan military exchanges. The possibility of a “sudden incursion” by China’s forces in response to these developments was high, he said.

He later added a proposal to maintain a US weapons stockpile in Taiwan was “under discussion,” without elaborating.

China’s two sessions refer to the plenary meetings each spring of its legislature, known as the National People’s Congress, and its political advisory body, known as the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The two-week event typically is where Beijing’s cabinet posts are filled, and where Chinese leader Xi Jinping will extend his title of president for a third five-year term.

The Chinese Finance Ministry, responsible for the annual budget, doesn’t provide details about how the funds are to be spent. Wang Chao, a spokesperson for the National People’s Congress, told reporters on Saturday that the “appropriate and reasonable” increase on defense would address “complex security challenges, and for China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country.”

“Our armed forces, with a focus on the goals for the centenary of the People’s Liberation Army in 2027, should work to carry out military operations, boost combat preparedness and enhance military capabilities so as to accomplish the tasks entrusted to them by the party and the people,” Li Keqiang, the outdoing Chinese premier, said in a work report on Sunday.

Li didn’t explicitly link the ongoing force modernization to China’s policies toward Taiwan, which he said separately would follow the principle of “peaceful development of cross-strait relations,” as well as a focus on economic and cultural exchanges.

China claims Taiwan as its own while Taipei rejects Beijing’s assertion of sovereignty over the island. Li’s remarks suggest Beijing is in no rush to resolve the long-running dispute, but the hard power gap across the strait continues to widen.

China already has the world’s largest army at 2 million strong and the largest navy in terms of ship numbers. In 2022, it launched its third aircraft carrier, which it will use to project more air power deeper into the Pacific. Its growing nuclear warheads and range of delivery options continue to occupy minds in Washington.

Beijing’s near-term modernization target of 2027, if realized, could allow its armed forces to become “a more credible military tool for the Chinese Communist Party to wield as it pursues Taiwan unification,” the Pentagon’s report said.

Ely Ratner, the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, told the Hudson Institute think tank on Thursday that the US and its allies would be able to deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan this decade.

“Our assessment is that that is true right now, that deterrence is real, deterrence is strong, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure it stays that way tomorrow and into the future,” said Ratner. “What we’re doing is reinforcing that deterrence, ensuring that the costs of aggression remain unacceptably high to Beijing.”

Do you have a tip on a world news story that Newsweek should be covered? Do you have a question about cross-strait relations? Let us know via worldnews@newsweek.com.

China’s forces could make a “sudden incursion” into Taiwan’s territorial sea or airspace this year, the island’s defense minister said on Monday, after the Chinese government raised its military spending to meet “complex security challenges.”

Latest Posts


Don't Miss

Stay in touch

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.